POCATELLO, Idaho — An Idaho man is lucky to be alive after his canoe capsized in the chilly waters of the Snake River during a weekend duck hunting trip, doctors said.
After spending more than 20 minutes in the water, Michael Jones of Pocatello survived hypothermia with the help of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services warden, emergency medical responders, and doctors at Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello.
“I want to thank every one of them,” Michael Jones, 42, said from his hospital bed Wednesday. “If it weren’t for any of them, I wouldn’t be here today.”
The rescue effort began after Jones and Norman Davis went out Saturday to retrieve a duck that had been shot. Their canoe hit a wave and capsized.
“I remember the canoe dunking over, hanging onto the canoe for about 20 or 30 minutes, and that was it,” Jones said.
Strong winds prevented the men from returning to shore.
Jones’ brother Thomas said he called 911 five times before deciding to wade into the water to help. But he was turned back by the chill.
“The water was so cold, I went numb,” Thomas Jones said. “It was just too cold out there.”
After the hunting party got through to a 911 dispatcher in American Falls, fish and wildlife warden Russell Haskett arrived and waded into the water up to his chest to pull the canoe to shore.
“I knew it was a calculated risk,” Haskett said. “I had a mental picture of how far I could go. Those guys had been in the water for a long time.”
A hospital helicopter landed about the time the canoe reached shore.
Emergency responders performed CPR on Jones on the way to the hospital. Doctors put him on a cardiopulmonary bypass machine, which pumped warmed, oxygenated blood through his body.
“It took us 60 minutes to bring him back to normal temperature,” Dr. Jacob DeLaRosa said. “After 30 minutes, we shocked him back into rhythm.”
About six hours later, hospital staff determined the lack of oxygen hadn’t caused any brain damage.
“He asked for some ice cream,” said Brenda Stanley, public relations director at the medical center.
Davis and Thomas Jones were taken by ambulance to the hospital, where they were treated and released.
Michael Jones said he won’t give up duck hunting but plans to confine his efforts to dry land.
“You can’t give up something you love; at least I can’t,” he said.